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Friday, September 07, 2018

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back.

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I sewed last night.

Into the very late hours.

It was a night of “Can’t go to sleep.”

Jeff, who works his lawn maintenance job starting very early in the morning, was off to his own bed by 8pm – leaving me in a house that was too quiet, yet with too many voices echoing through my head.

I had received this very cute signature quilt from the quilters in my class with the Heritage Quilt Guild in Lockport, IL.  Was that only March of this year?  It already feels like so long ago.

I adore the vintage string block center, and decided to carry the theme to the outside edge of the quilt by adding a string pieced border for more color, using strings from recycled shirts. Many of these strings are the remnants of the fabrics used in the quilt I made for Mark when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma nearly 5 years ago.  The fabric remembers.

I was piecing these during our last “impromptu” Quilt-Cam – July 30th.

That also seems like a whole world-away-ago.


I measured the quilt center before adding the borders – 25 1/2’’.  I decided that if I trimmed 1/2’’ off of each side, that it would be then divisible by 3’’, and my string blocks would work – and I only needed to make 5 more to have enough.

Sitting at that machine was like forcing myself to get back on a bicycle I had no desire to ride.

Which left me to ask myself “Is this what grieving does?  Kills your love of everything that makes your world a happy place?”

I kept sewing.  Pressed, feeling the heat of the iron warm the fabric, and placing each block against my heart – just to feel the warmth there where things feel so still and cold.


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Mark and his son, Spencer.

I’ve been talking to my dad.  A lot.  We are so very much the same, and it helps to talk to him about things and feelings.  Real feelings.

When I look over the past 5 years of Mark’s illness I realize that we ALL have been living with a sword over our heads, just waiting for it to fall.  Would it hit him?  Would it miss him?  Things are good for now, but there is always another scan – will something show up then?

I have worked SO HARD to keep myself busy, for a number of reasons.  

To feel ALIVE for one thing.  To create beauty for another.  It feeds my soul.  To give and to share – because it makes me happy.  But also so I didn’t have to dwell on things.  I didn’t have to think about what it would mean to not have Mark with us any longer. (And I am talking PHYSICALLY, not spiritually or anything of that nature.)

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53 is too young to die.  Period.  At the time that Mark was first diagnosed with glioblastoma, I crazily booked myself 5 years SOLID into the future because if the calendar was full, nothing could happen to him or to ME.  Life would just go on, you know?

WHO DOES THAT?  I know it is crazy.  No one knows what they will be doing 5 years from now.  And no one can be that busy and sustain it – especially when running from fear, despair and impending loss of a loved one so close.

And as all of this has come to a culmination – I have to face the fact that I am emotionally and physically exhausted.

I need as much time off as I can so I can STOP being busy.  And face this head on.

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To the guilds that I had to cancel – I am really SORRY.  But it is time for Bonnie to take care of Bonnie, and that means not overloading myself with make-up dates right now.  I can’t.  I am emotionally and physically and spiritually can not shoe-horn make up dates into a calendar that is already too full.

I already do not know how I am going to continue with the dates that are on the calendar through November until I have holiday time off.  And then Holiday time? 

I am planning on working on our Mystery Quilt.  I know what I want to do.  It is already underway – but I haven’t worked on it really in many weeks.  I want to continue with our Quiltville Mystery. 

I realized this morning that ALL of the reasons that I have offered it to everyone else during the holiday season – all of those good and worthy reasons, now apply to me.  I need the Mystery as much as you do, to create, to share, to lose myself in the piecing and to work through my grief. 

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This also occupied me yesterday.

I finished my book edits yesterday on my final PDF –and I hope through all of this that I didn’t miss anything.  I am afraid I missed something.  Something just not evident – something that slips through the cracks. 

As I went over the introductory text to Punkin’ Patch – where I tell of the memories that my two brothers and I shared of going to the pumpkin patch as kids and running up and down the rows with reckless abandon in search of the “best pumpkin ever” for what we would be carving once we got them home – the flood gates opened again.  We were so young and carefree.  Those innocent childhood years.

There is another quilt in the book – Sand Castles – also full of the memories of days spent on the beach in Santa Cruz growing up.  Mark is also such a huge part of those memories that I have asked if I can edit in a dedication to him on that intro page to that quilt.  It just seemed fitting.

And now we wait for a December release, which is right during the middle of Mystery season.

There are PDF patterns to write for bonus quilts that are not included in the book, but will be sent in digital form to those who order directly from the Quiltville Store when it is time.

Where am I going to fit in writing those patterns?  Hopefully in October.  So those “available” spots on my Calendar of Events are really not as wide open as they look.

As for quilting the mini at the top of this page?  (Maybe it is technically a MIDI since it measures 32’’ square?) I wanted to do that this morning, but it is trash day, laundry – copious amounts of laundry—needed folding and put away, cat boxes had to be cleaned, trash and recycling to the curb, dishwasher unloaded, a few more orders processed and out.

I’m also cutting myself some slack and will hopefully tackle that when I return home from Arizona.

All of these “Normal” day to day activities of basic survival are keeping me moving.

Dentist at 2:30 in Jefferson, NC.  I’ll be out of here by noon.

And then up to the cabin for the weekend.

My soul needs the mountains.

*EDIT* For those who have asked about donations in my brother Mark Wilkinson's name, please donate to the Barrow Neurological Foundation. All funds sent to Barrows will be directed toward brain tumor research, www.SupportBarrow.org/braintumorresearch , or 124 W. Thomas Road, Suite 250 Phoenix, AZ 85013.
Thank you.

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Quiltville Quote of the Day.

Antique silk pineapple quilt from the American Museum in Bath, UK.

Your heart knows more than you give it credit for!

And I have to believe that mine does too.

Have a wonderful Friday -



61 comments:

  1. Grief is so personal and each of us has to go through it in our own way and time. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. Bonnie, when you are ready, I found it very helpful to talk to a grief counselor and to join a support group for those who lost a loved one to cancer. These were available to me through my husband’s hospice group. Sending you virtual hugs!

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  3. My heart aches for you and your whole family.

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  4. Oh Bonnie you just described so much of what I am also feeling having lost mom on the 31st. I will continue to pray for you and your family!

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  5. First I want to leave you a big hug! One of those types of hugs that includes a tight squeeze before I release you. Grief is so incredibly personal - you must allow yourself to do what you have to do. Explanations are not necessary and yet we feel the need to apologize, etc. My sweet hubby suddenly passed away in late June and since then I've been lost in my own grief - I've lost my desire to sew/quilt. When I think about it I'm filled with so much angst I actually start to shake and then the tears flow. Allow your tears to flow, please! I'm going to leave you with another big (HUG). Take care!

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  6. Bonnie, Take all the time you need to heal yourself. I, for one, will be here when you return. Godspeed, Mark.

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  7. You and your family are in my prayers! It is always hardest on those left behind when a loved one passes. Thinking of you!

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  8. You know what to do. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. . .

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  9. You need breathing space; take it and do just that— breathe. Everything else will wait. Sending you big hugs πŸ€—

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  10. Hugs my friend. Just keep breathing in and out, in and out. Cry, scream, whatever you need to need.

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  11. Dearest Bonnie. Grief cannot be put in a box. It has to be dealt with, or you will have long lasting health effects of your own. You need to take the time that you need to heal and replenish your energy stores. Spending time with your family is the best thing you can do right now. I think your future with your Quiltville Inn was heaven sent at just the right time. Time for a new direction.

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  12. One day at a time. The String quilt looks great. It reminds me of Josephine's quilt in the book by Ann Hazelwood. It will have a special place in the Quiltville Inn, I'm sure. Good to make a dedication in your book, you're not going to be the only one crying when We Quiltvillians get the book. Cabin time sounds perfect.

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  13. My sincerest sympathies on your loss. I could tell you how quilting has kept me sane after devastating losses but you need to grieve and heal in your own way and time. Blessings on you and yours.

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  14. You need time to grieve, and for your heart to heal. And from what you have written, your dear brother would want you to remember him with Joy in your heart, not pain. It will take time, but you will arrive at the other side of this mountain. And you Will see him again someday.

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  15. my sweet nephew, now 9 years old, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of six. He went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. He has been cancer free for 18 months. He will have another MRI follow up today. I understand the fear you have suffered these past five years, the sword hanging over your head. We face that today awaiting MRI results. I pray for you and your family every day. You are so right to take time to care of you and grieve. sending Blessings and love.

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    1. My cousin's daughter is in Rochester, MN for MRI today for her brain cancer. I know our whole extended family is holding their breath that she gets positive results, or at least that the tumor shows no growth or spread.

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  16. Bonnie, you need to rest. Let the grief do its work. Let your heart and soul mend. Take the time now. We'll all be here when you're ready to resume your quilting life. REST and recuperate

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  17. My heart breaks with you...
    Laurie

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  18. Bonnie, please accept my sincere condolences. I, too, know that complete anguish of loosing a loved one. I had to sit with my grief; I could not attempt to do anything but the bare minimum to get thru the day. I could not sew. I just had to sit and watch myself take one present breath after another. Everyone grieves differently, but the tears and sobs cleanse your spirit and each hour and day that passes cleanses it a little more. You’ll know when you are ready to get back in life’s routine...I wish you peace for your mind, body and spirit.

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  19. Big hugs. Take time to find your peace. πŸ’•

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  20. One of the things that I have learned from being a widow is that the grief process is like going through a tunnel. The tunnel is the only way through the mountain. There's protection in that tunnel. You'll be safe from the weather, falling rocks, and land slides. There's a light way off in the distance...out of focus, but it's there. The speed limit through a tunnel is slow. Sometimes there's even "road work ahead" or a "speedbump" that forces you to slow you down even slower than the speed limit. There will be impatient "cars" that come up behind you and honk their horns wanting you to go faster. Ignor them. Keep going the speed limit...don't pull over and get stuck...but keep moving. The journey is as long as you need it to be. One day, without even know it, the light at the end of the tunnel will be so bright you'll need sunglasses. (((HUGS))) to you, dear Bonnie.

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    1. So very beautifully said, brings tears to my eyes. Prayers and hugs for you, Bonnie, do take care of yourself

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    2. j. Very wise words about the process. I hope that Bonnie reads your words more than once and will ignore all those "cars" honking behind her. Blessings.Joyce Skinner

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    3. This is a wonderful metaphor. Thank you so much for the image.

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  21. I think it is so wonderful that there are quilts in THIS book that bring up memories of Mark. It couldn’t have been planned any better. Being able to dedicate to him will keep his memory alive, even for those of us who didn’t know him personally. Every time we make that quilt or read that pattern, we will be thinking of you. I can’t think of a better unplanned legacy!

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  22. My dear Bonnie. You are normal! It’s just as simple as that. I lost my husband when I was 52 and he was 53, just like your brother. Yes, I still miss him lots but life does go on. Each day was a challange for a long while. My trick was to stay busy, just as you are doing. My 3 kids and grandkids have had a very large part of my carrying on the way my hubby wanted. I give them lots of credit and they deserve it. I pray for you and that you will find peace. I also lost my brother 13 years ago to the same illness as your brother. It knaws at you because you had so much love. Yes my dear you are normal. Taking care of yourself is important. Do it! Hugs.

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  23. Dear Bonnie, grief is so very different for everyone. I went to counseling after my brother passed and she said it can last up to 2 years and then get better. Good days and bad days. Now its been nearly 5 years and I/we are better, but... Although the other day I was driving somewhere, listening to the car radio and danged if it didn't start a flood of tears. Take care of yourself and I am sure all the guilds will understand. We have ALL lost a loved one.

    Many hugs, Sharon in Colorado

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  24. You need time to truly grieve--quiet moments and the space to cry, be angry, whatever you need to come to terms with this sadness inside of you...T I M E,
    time for you. You should just do what you absolutely HAVE to and take a break...
    Sending prayers to you in hopes that your memories of Mark will warm your heart...hugs, Julierose

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  25. You know, I think an email with two bonus PDF quilt codes that arrived after the hub-bub of the holidays is over would be a lovely thing for most of your book buying fans to receive. So, maybe those two projects could drop farther down the list of your worries. Just a thought. Do what you need to make the room you need to honor Mark.

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  26. You need to take the time to grieve, to spend together with family, and time to rest. Grief is exhausting but needs to be allowed to happen. Everyone who matters will understand your need to take time for yourself.

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  27. This that you said, “The fabric remembers” grabbed me by the heart! Yes, it does, sweet Bonnie. Take the time you need, for you. πŸ’—

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  28. Sweetie, remember that you don't need permission from anyone to call a 'time out', or to change direction. Do what you need to do. Breathe. Hugs.

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  29. When my brother died a year ago from a M.I. it was a month before I could sew anything. I would walk into my sewing room, look around turn and leave. It is a process. You will find your way I'm sure of it. Until then feel the love from us.

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  30. You have GIVEN so freely to us. TAKE whatever time you need. Sending loving thoughts your way.

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  31. Rest, relax, and use your time to grieve, then rejuvenate. Everyone takes loss in a different manner. I went through 7 years of breast cancer treatments with my mom, until the final year, when she had brain cancer. We were given six months to a year with her. I spent that year busy and going with her, but we made the most of it. She left us 14 months later, just 3 weeks after my 1st child was born. It's not easy, but time is the only way to heal. She was just 54. It took me time to grieve and heal and I still get jealous at mother/daughters at quilt retreats (that was us), but I know she's in a better place. Take all the time you need. Grief hits in unexpected places.

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  32. My heart goes out to you and your family. My prayers are also with you. Grief is not something that you can deal with overnight or over several days. We are here to support you and lift you up when you need to be. God bless your family and comfort you.

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  33. Bonnie, I don't think that there's a single person on this blog who would not allow you to take a few rain checks on re books. Your grief is yours alone and we all have had an experience that we can relate with. PLEASE FEEL FREE to take all the time you need to get to an ok place. Cry if you want, one day they will turn into smiles. Be angry if you want, one day it will be a story that you want to share. Take all the time you need! We love you and we will wait for you. HUGS and prayers for you.

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  34. Bonnie, my deepest sympathies, I feel your pain, well my pain that feels like yours. I lost my husband recently and the writing by Jamie Anderson is so, so true. I understand every word and how it relates to me and I am sue to you also. Time will heal but, I don't think the hurt ever totally goes away. It doesn't seem like it. Quilting was my relief and when I couldn't quilt I was truly lost. So hang in there, keep busy and give and receive love to others.

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  35. Bonnie, I am so sorry for your loss. Grieving is hard and it hurts. It is also a testament to your brother and the impact he had in your life. In my life, the hurt I have from losing those I love has never gone away, but I have learned to live with the loss and to find joy despite the pain. You are an amazing person and you have touched many lives. You don't have anything to apologize for. You need time to care for yourself and your family. Your quilting family understands and wants you to take the time you need. You are much loved!

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  36. Dear Bonnie, you MUST put yourself first. We all grieve differently and whatever is your journey, it is RIGHT for you....no one should tell you HOW to grieve. You owe none of us anything except your well-being as you find your way through this chapter of Mark's life.

    When my Mom died in 2007, I didn't sew for nearly a year and I had to force myself to get back at it.

    God Bless you and hold you in his hands through this journey. Hugs to you.

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  37. Oh Bonnie..there are no words...xoxoxo!

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  38. Dear, dear Bonnie. Your brother Mark has a beautiful family and you share his beautiful smile. Please keep telling us about him. Be patient. After a while, the rough edges of grief get smoother, much like sea glass. Sending many hugs from the Northwest.

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  39. Bonnie, Mark wouldn't want you to lose your mojo for creating beauty. Make his passing a reason to keep going. We will be here when you feel you can return, right now take care of yourself, time will ease the hurt and help with the missing. Let yourself remember and heal we will be here when you feel you are ready. God bless you, he will guide you through your grief.

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  40. Bonnie,
    I feel your pain and will pray for you and your family.
    My 58-year old sister has been fighting the very same gioblastoma (sp) as your brother for a little more than a year now. She has undergone surgery, too many chemo and radiation treatments to count. This past April, she was told that everything was clear... only to be told on July 19 that another 'growth' has appeared... so here she goes again.
    Cancer is a nasty thing... I lost my one and only baby brother(age 46)to the very same cancer 5 years ago.... now all we can do is wait and pray for another member of the family.
    Life is not fair....

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  41. Wishing you strength Bonnie!! <3
    Dana

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  42. As has been said above grief is a journey and is very personal to everyone going through it, you will heal in time and your memories of Mark will become less painful. But it’s not a race as you need to heal and recharge your batteries, take your time and remember baby steps one by one your are a wonderful sharing wife, mother, sister and daughter and friend too many you are loved by us all for your caring and sharing of your precious talent take care we will all be here for you.
    Love and quilty hugs
    Anne xxx

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  43. You may not feel it right now, yet you are demonstrating so much bravery. So much courage. I've been hyperactive since cancer stole my father 8 years ago. This year the day before Mothers Day I found my mother dead. I'm still trying to stay crazy busy so I DON'T have to face my grief. My plan is to let it seep in a little at a time until I can face it more fully. I am not brave. I can say it helped me tremendously to have a friend visit on weekends and we just created together. Quiet, loving support. Take care of yourself. We are here for you. Hugs!!

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  44. With me it was a case of hiding my emotions and keeping them for the bathtub. It was frowned upon by family members because being happy wasn't the done thing. But nobody knew how I felt inside. Do what you feel is best for you and say "knickers" to those who disagree. Hang in there Bonnie.xx

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  45. Take time with your grieving,as it is a personal matter. We each go at our own pace.Tears still come to my eyes when I think of my youngest brother who died from a heart attack at age 40 many years ago.Allow your soul and spirit the time it needs to go through this process.All of us supporters will be here waiting for you upon your return.In the meanwhile, prayers for all.Blessings!

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  46. Dear Bonnie, we are all here for you at this time, reading your blog has helped me through some dark times which I am grateful for. How about doing the mystery as a live quilt cam, and we your "virtual students" and you - all sew it at the same time, this way no instructions have to be written, the quilt doesn't have to be finished and then a reveal quilt cam. If this doesn't work for you ask someone to test the pattern or the process, take photos and write the instructions - even make the quilt. Lots of readers would help. I think sometimes the hardest thing for us is to ask for help. Be kind to yourself.

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  47. Bonnie, you are giving voice to and experiencing what many of us have already learned. Having lost both my husband and my daughter in the last 3-1/2 years, I know all too well what you are going through. Time will allow you to adjust to a new normal but it will never be easy—just be thankful you still have your parents, your husband and your sons. Sending ❤️ and prayers for peace.

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  48. Lifting you up in my prayers. You have shared your family so graciously with us that they have touched hearts in ways words can't express. Mark was an inspiration and your love for him encourages me with each word you speak or memory you share. Hugs.

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  49. Bonnie,
    I am a retired hospice RN and I strongly encourage you to seek out a local hospice and ask if you can participate in one of their bereavement groups. Most hospices will welcome you even though they weren't the particular hospice caring for Mark. Even a few meetings may bring you more comfort than you expect. Self care is your ONLY responsibility right now. Many of us are thinking of you in your time of grief.
    Barbie

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  50. So Glad you are going to try to take care of yourself...I too have to do the same..and believe me the ones that really matter will be the 1st to tell you it is OK...and will be there to support you in any way they can...Quiltville came into my life at very low spot after lose...and you and your enthusiasum brought me back to a place of calm and peace ..Enjoy you new adventure...and create that Lovely place for many to come and renew themselves..after 3 years I finally feel alive again...and my STASH is getting used..and my soul is being fed...TY Miss Bonnie...<3

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  51. Grief is the price we pay for love. I know your heart is full of grief and love too for Mark. I am so sorry and pray that you will continue with great memories to see you through the coming days.

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  52. Bonnie, your honest discussion of your grief is good for your soul - and also for those of us who are and have gone through the same journey. There is no timetable for the feelings. Give yourself permission to postpone decisions....our brain chemistry leaves us a bit addled during grief! Do what you feel comfortable with and allow others to pick up the slack for you. We so often feel that it has to be done by us.....when it may give others a chance to show their capabilities. Your daily quotes often cover thinking outside the box - maybe there can be alternate solutions hiding around the corner.
    Continued prayers for you and your family.

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  53. Hi Bonnie. Thanks for sharing so much of your pain, it helps to know I'm not alone. I agree 53 is too young to die: I'M 53, and I don't want to 'meet my Maker' yet. My baby brother was only 41 when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma almost 4 years ago. I wish I had thought to start making him a quilt then, but truly, when his own Oncologist started his treatments and said, "We're talking 'cure' here", I really didn't believe we'd be where we are right now: praying for a miracle, grasping at straws, hoping against hope that he's strong enough (and see if he's willing to take a risk) to move to Philadelphia from Ontario (Canada) for 8-12 weeks for a Phase1 trial that *I* had to find for him (with the help of a knowledgeable friend who works in the drug industry) on ClinicalTrials.gov But so many things happened between then and now to prevent my being able to start any new projects. Because of course my Dad had just suffered a catastrophic brain injury less than three months prior to this diagnosis... and he had been my Mother's primary caregiver--she has MS. So I had eldercare for both of them, enlisting the help of personal injury lawyers to get my dad the funding he needed to help him try to recover (he never really did), on top of staying with my brother in hospital whenever I could, and a stem cell transplant because I was a "perfect match". (Ha! That turned out to be a waste of time and energy). And now I've been pretty much living with his wife and young sons, helping them have the best summer they could have given the circumstances. So I feel a little bit of your pain, and wish I could clone myself so that the other me could've made him a quilt. At least I was able to order some Notre Damesports clothing, a team he worships, for himself and his boys. Even that I had to ask a friend to bring me from the U.S. because of course they wouldn't ship to Canada... I am tired just remembering everything we've gone through up to this point, and I can't even begin to imagine his pain, and that of his wife and sons! Bonnie, PLEASE take the time you need... you'll never regret it. As they say, no one ever says on their own deathbed, "I wish I had spent more time at work". You know better than most, you never know. Family and friends, and doing things you love -- that's what we all work for, and once you can afford to, should be all we spend our time with!
    Diana K.

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  54. Grief is so personal, not here it isn't. It might help to think big picture, how about all the people in Japan...earthquake and mudslides in one week.

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